When seven years ago we said we were moving to Dubai for work, our north-west London family and friends had reservations. Why would we choose to be strangers in a strangers land? The reality was quite different. Sharon, whose parents came from the Middle East, felt an immediate affinity. We were drawn into the "tent culture", enjoying warm hospitality and genuine acceptance.
As investigative journalist Stephen Fried followed the fortunes of an American synagogue in search of a rabbi, he was taken aback by some of the behaviour he saw. The search was supposed to take one year, but it ended up taking three.
None of us would think twice about a Jewish doctor rushing off to hospital to perform an emergency operation on a Saturday morning rather than going to shul. We take it for granted that pikuach nefesh, saving life, takes precedence over the prohibitions against work on Shabbat.
In Israel, this Tu Bishvat will be a strangely quiet affair. No children planting new trees, no rabbis digging new forests. It's the Tu Bishvat of shmittah, the sabbatical year; with our spades at rest, it's time to consider big questions of eco-halachah
Same-sex marriages are back in the news, following the Masorti movement's recent decision to offer partnership ceremonies. Supporters of the Masorti move feel that the traditional Jewish concept of marriage doesn't take account of social change or of life in the modern world, that people in same-sex relationships have the same right as heterosexual couples to have their union celebrated in shul.
When Jerusalem's Old City and its eastern neighbourhoods were captured by Israel in 1967, it was obvious, for Israelis at least, that the city would never again be divided. A law was passed by the Knesset "legalising" the unity of the city, although it was never recognised by the rest of the world.
Over the past year we have heard a good deal about partnership minyanim - religious services where women take on more active roles such as leading some prayers, leyning from the Torah and receiving aliyot. Their proponents have trumpeted them as pivotal in determining the future direction of Orthodoxy in what is said to be "a male-dominated" environment.
It seems as though Hollywood just can’t get enough of the Torah these days.
With Noah only recently being a box office hit, the latest attempt at biblical commercialism, Exodus: Gods and Kings, is due for release here today. The same director who brought us the epic battle sequences of Gladiator, Ridley Scott, has now attempted a faithful translation of the Exodus story to the big screen.
The proposed Jewish State Bill has been one of the most hotly contested pieces of legislation in Israeli memory and the controversy - along with considerable ego - has led to the current government's dissolution. Depending on whom you ask, it either corrects or upsets the delicate balance between Judaism and democracy that lies at the heart of Zionism.
'M ai Chanucah? - What is Chanucah?", asked the rabbis of the Talmud. They asked the question, not because they didn't know, but because they had a problem with it. Chanucah earns just three pages in Tractate Shabbat (21b-24a), most of which are concerned with rituals relating to the kindling of the lights and the place of this minor festival in the liturgy.